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wisdom and legislative qualifications. It is easy to declaim against the monks ; but in the same degree as they were opposed to actual civilization, they were benefactors of the people in periods of ignorance and barbarism. The monks of Melrose were not only learned, but they excelled in the mechanic and industrious arts. One prefers at the present day, a large manufactory to a monastery ; but it would be easy to trace to the institution of some monastic building now in ruins the discovery of more than one useful machine, which time only has been enabled to improve.
As to the devastation of religious monuments, poetry does not stand alone in inveighing against it: Protestant England and Scotland dare at length to express their regret. Will it be believed that the anathema of the monks of Melrose has pursued, even to his extant posterity, that Thomson, who mutilated the Infant Jesus to which I have referred? The name of Stumpy* has been transmitted to his descendants, and more than one family have refused to ally themselves with theirs.
The ruins of Melrose are precious as an object of art; but the genius of a poet has conferred on them a new consecration. The Lay of the Last Minstrel, the Monastery, and the Abbey, ought for the future to protect them from every kind of Vandalism.
• In allusion to the effect of the palsy with which the arm of the sacrilegious defacer was visited. I quote the fact, trusting, however, that no bigot will avail himself of my book to advocate the law of sacrilege with which we are threatened.
The Lay is nothing but a picture of manners, and local interests. It will be scarcely believed that more than 30,000 copies were printed and sold by Constable. The Monastery revives some of the ideas and even persons of the poem. For example; Julien Avenel and Christie both recall William of Deloraine; but the subject no longer concerns a mere quarrel of clans. In the Monastery, we are made to take part in the grand political and religious drama of the Reformation.
That memorable struggle, which brought all the passions into play, agitates the court as well as the church; the dungeon-keep of the feudal chief as well as the hut of the lowest of his vassals. The general ferment produced by the crisis excites all minds and imparts real importance to the most trivial incidents; for all refer to the grand question which has sprung up. Each individual character is therefore more struck out. The slightest detail of manners adds to the general effect of the picture of all classes of society at that epoch. How much -that effect is further heightened by the contrast of characters! Lady Blanche may be condemned. The poet has too much mistrusted the incredulity of the public in the nineteenth century; it was requisite to personify, in a freer, and less indecisive manner, one of the numerous local superstitions, which gave him the idea of this fantastic personage.
From the casements of Abbotsford Sir Walter surveyed Eildon Hill, a mountain separated into three conical summits by the wand of Michael Scott,
VOL. II. c c
and the Goblin Burn, where Thomas the Rhymer had his rendezvous with the Fairy Queen. But banishing Lady Blanche from the Monastery, there still remain the highly comic characters of Father Boniface, and the Sacristan, the buoyant Halbert, and the melancholy Edward, Julien Avenel and Christie, the attractive Molinara, and that model of the dandies of his age, Piercy Shafton; but more especially Father Eustace, and Henry Warden, &c. Melrose Abbey takes the name of Kennaquhair in the romance. Sir Walter intended to put his readers at fault by this change of name; but he has painted the entire landscape with rigorous fidelity. I write on the spot, and can safely say that there is not in Roxburghshire any other Kennaquhair than Melrose, with its cloisters richly adorned with Gothic" ornaments; situated on the Tweed, in a spot where its waters appear to make an elbow in order to return towards their source;f commanded by mountains towards the south, t&c. In fine, in one of the deeds of the abbey, one Robert Avenel is mentioned as familiaris Noster. We must also look here for the locale of Captain Clutterbuck, who was barely polite in omitting to name in his introduction so well known a neighbour as the Castellan of Abbotsford, and in not even borrowing a short quotation from his poetry.
TO M. ACH. BOSQUET.
There is no spot in all Roxburghshire, where I now am, which does not deserve describing. This shire has been appropriately called the Arcadia of Scotland; the mountains are often denominated the Highlands of the South. The scene, in general, smiles as we approach them; their forms are not characterised by aught that is severe or abrupt; the vallies are especially graceful and verdant; in short, the whole spot is pastoral, the aspect of the country and the manners of the inhabitants. The same character is to be found in their superstitions and poetry; for passing over Sir Walter Scott, who belongs to the whole of Scotland, the Scotch Arcadia has its special poet, James Hogg, the Ettrick Shephe J9. You will ask me what there is of pastoral character in the ancestors of the Scotts, living as moss-troopers. I will reply, that civilization has changed the habits of these families, which formerly were incessantly under arms; but seen through the perspective of the past, the times of feudal anarchy supply the modern ballads with reminiscences which save from monotony a poetry rather descriptive and affluent
s in imagery, than connected with the feelings and the passions, and which has moreover lost the originality of primitive inspiration.
I this morning continued my excursion through Roxburghshire, and even explored a portion of Selkirkshire. Jedburgh Abbey deserves to be mentioned after that of Melrose. It is not of so perfect an architectural style ; the ruins of Melrose, besides, derive an inexpressible grace from the extensive landscape which serves them as a frame. Jedburgh is enveloped in a more solemn light by the oaks, pines, and elms, by which it is environed. This latter abbey, situated in a kind of peninsula, formed by the Tweed, increased by the waters of the Jed, was one of the religious foundations of King David, who peopled it with regular canons from Beauvais, in France. The present proprietor of the monastery is jealous of its preservation. One of the courts is converted into a productive orchard, of which Earl Buchan is not less chary than of the ruins. A direction board admonishes the stranger, that he is not to deviate from the paths, ibr fear of encountering a steel trap or spring gxin. I am inclined to think, that these homicidal precautions, with which English landed property is covered, are not of monastic invention.
I visited the charming lake of St. Mary, described in Marmion, and with still intenser interest recognized an old ruined fortress, which its peculiar site often brings to the eye in the horizon of Roxburghshire. It is the tower of Smallholm,